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NEWS

ICU 2015 Autumn Matriculation Address by Junko Hibiya, President

Update:

Bible Reading: The Gospel According to Luke 12:48b
"From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."


I would like to extend my congratulations to all members of the incoming class. May I also offer warm greetings to those family members who are with us today.

International Christian University, which you enter today, was founded in 1953 with the goal of cultivating human resources that can contribute to the peaceful development of the world. The document presented to the Japanese Ministry of Education in the previous year stated that, "students shall be selected from among those who empathize with the university's founding ideals without regard to their race, nationality, and religion."

The first University Bulletin states the university's vision as follows: "ICU was founded on international cooperation and serves as an experimental venue for intercultural understanding with the creation of an international community on campus." In accord with this vision, we have assumed the role of a bridge between Japan and the world in the ensuing 62 years. ICU is a place where varied cultures of students and faculty from around the world cross over. Coming from diverse geographical and educational backgrounds, you, September students, are expected to enrich our student body with different and innovative ways in which to meet the challenges of the new global age.

To create such a place, we also regularly invite distinguished speakers from outside and organize open lectures and seminars. For example, three months ago, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs hosted a collaborative symposium on global ethics on this campus. I myself participated in one of the sessions that focused on "Citizenship and Difference." In this session, Ambassador Mohau Pheko of Republic of South Africa delivered a thought-provoking remark based on her own life experience.

What image comes to your mind when you hear "South Africa?" Those of you who are interested in sport may say the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Perhaps it is South Africa's celebrated ecosystem of unique animal and plant species. Or is it the country's abundant mineral resources represented, quintessentially, by diamonds?

My own answer would be South Africa's eighth president, Nelson Mandela. Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 for his role in the anti-apartheid movement. However, the campaign against apartheid continued and grew in ferocity across South Africa in the 1980s, while it was severely criticized abroad.

I was studying in the United States at the time, and I well remember seeing the rows and rows of tents that protesting students set up on the campus. If it had been ICU, they would have been on the lawn in front of the university hall. Mandela's 27 years of prison life finally came to an end in 1990. In 1994 he was elected president of South Africa and apartheid was abolished.

South Africa is a multilingual society. There are more than 20 different languages in daily use. There are 11 official languages alone: English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Southern Ndebele, Tsonga, Tswana, and Venda. This may be the first time that many of you have even heard of some of these languages other than English and Afrikaans; those 9 languages are all members of the Bantu language family.

The second language I mentioned, Afrikaans, was created through a fusion of many languages. It is based on the Dutch of the 17th century when South Africa was a Dutch colony. Added to it have been French, German, and other European languages, Malaysian brought by Malays who crossed to South Africa from Indonesia when it was also Dutch territory, and the local African languages. It became South Africa's official language under the previous white administration. "Apartheid" is itself an Afrikaans word. It is a combination of "apart" - "separate, separated" - and "heid" - "condition" or "state." The Soweto Uprising that erupted in June 1976 began with a protest by African students against a law requiring them to study Afrikaans in school. It escalated into giant riots that shocked the world and has since become the subject of movies and novels.

Mandela of his own accord undertook to learn Afrikaans that had become the symbol of white domination and the language of the oppressor. That was because Mandela believed that if he wanted to appeal to the hearts of the people who were oppressing his country's African population, there was nothing more important than to understand their language and to speak with them in their language. While in prison he proactively communicated with his guards in Afrikaans. It was the guards themselves who later began to come to his cell to speak with this activist of the anti-apartheid movement.

Nelson Mandela left to us the following words: "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart." For Mandela, the language he needed to enter the other's heart was Afrikaans. For each of you new students here today, what languages will you need to enter the hearts of others? All of you live in the 21st Century in which you will be called upon to cope with situations in which everyone is skilled in multiple languages and uses them depending on the circumstance. All of you will - on this campus, or in places you visit in every corner of the world on various programs - come into contact with cultures and languages you knew nothing at all about before.

As the Bible passage read out at the beginning today says, "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded." I ask that all of you, who have the great blessing of receiving a university education, spend each day of your time here at ICU mindfully, that you gain experience in speaking the language you need to appeal to the hearts of others, in readiness for that day when much shall be asked of you. Welcome to ICU.

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